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Europe B.O. falls to earth after Easter-week orbit

After the Easter vacation, the European box office came back to earth with a gentle bump last week.

Among the handful of major releases, “Accidental Hero” (“Hero”) was jaunty in London, “Sommersby” was OK in Norway and “Passenger 57” just climbed above the clouds in Germany.

A wow across Europe and Australia, “Jungle Book” is shaping up as the most successful Disney animated reissue in European history as it skipped past $ 35 million gross last week.

“Scent of a Woman” advanced to $ 42 million overseas and is holding tenaciously, especially in Germany, the U.K. and Spain. Martin Brest’s picture is UIP’s biggest release in Brazil since “Ghost,” bagging $ 3.1 million in 41 days.

In an intriguing three cornered-contest in Japan, “Robocop 3” powered in at No. 1 ahead of fellow rookies “Sister Act” and “Unforgiven.”

“Robocop 3” nabbed $ 829,000 in the opening weekend on 18 screens in key cities, not a bad omen for its July 16 domestic bow; nationwide, the total was $ 1.3 million on 115 screens.

“Sister Act” pulled a credible $ 636,000 on 17 after a long build-up by Buena Vista Intl. to establish the film in a market where U.S. comedies can fall flat; distrib was also careful to avoid heavyweight competition. The national take on 70 screens in five days was $ 1.2 million.

Warner Bros.’s gamble in delaying “Unforgiven” until after the Oscars was rewarded with a decent $ 514,000 in two days in 14 theaters. The nationwide haul in four days on 85 screens was about $ 990,000.

“Accidental Hero” garnered $ 150,684 on seven screens in London; it rolls out nationally on 120 this week.

“Body of Evidence” was universally pilloried and started tamely in the U.K., as it has elsewhere.

U.K. takings suffered probably the worst drop in Europe — off 39% to $ 6.1 million. But WB is having a banner year in Britain with a 30% market share through the first quarter, followed by Col/TriStar with 23.9%, Buena Vista’s 13. 4%, and Fox and UIP both with 6.3%.

In Paris, the first burst of summer weather contributed to a 10% drop in ticket sales, although biz is still running 6.4% up on last year.

German top 10 receipts slid 14% to $ 10.2 million. “Passenger 57” debuted quite well in the multiplexes but was so-so in the big cities.

There was a similar decline in Madrid, sans new releases. Italo takings gained about 16% to $ 5.3 million through last Sunday, with “Forever Young” in top spot in its second lap. “La Scorta” (The Armed Escort), topical saga about bodyguards who protect judges targeted by the Mafia, began strongly while “Unlawful Entry” was middling.

Australian B.O. slipped 13% to a still buoyant $ 6.4 million.

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